Saturday, 9 October 2010

The Simple Things

Sometimes, its really the simple things that make the difference, and in this case it's the stop at a canteen at the end of a night out.

While I was in the UK, it was a dirty kebab. In Athens, its more often than not a hot dog stuffed with grated carrot and cabbage and dripping in sauce. The only similarity to the British kebabs is that they refer to them as "Bromika" or "Dirty". And the next day's stomach upset is never caused by the 15 shots of tequila or the 10 pints of beer. Its always that dirty snack that's to blame!

But I believe the reality is far from poor hygiene or poor quality of ingredients. Besides, what could be more settling for a stomach drowning in spirits than a meal balanced in carbs, proteins, vegetables and seasoning? ;)

In a health conscious society, a tasty but unhealthy or dirty snack is almost forbidden - naughty, making it all the more appealing. The picture of a child covered in chocolate, surrounded by chocolate wrappings looking up at its parents that have just caught it, come to mind. But is being naughty only a privilege of children? Or also adults who have the excuse of a conscience clouded by a nights worth of drinks? Maybe labelling a snack in this was has the same affect?

Whatever the case may be, Athenians are generally split into two groups. Those who swear by the canteen at 'Mavili' square and those the will hear of nothing other than the one on 'Mixalakopoulou'. I have my preference but will none the less urge you to try both and make up your own mind!

View Bromika in a larger map

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Family Reunion... I Don't Think So!

Big family reunion planned for today. Not really my cup of tea. So, not to say that I need an excuse not to show up, but a phone call with a plan to try out an upcoming grill is what one would call the cherry on top!

The grill in question "Base Grill", located in the western suburb of Athens, 'Bournazi', (Κωνσταντινουπόλεως 64, Μπουρνάζι) just off the National Road:

View Base Grill in a larger map

We ordered some starters, a salad, three different cuts of veal, and a red Chilian wine. When the wine came and was transfused into a large glass container to breath, we knew that we were in for some serious meat eating.

The thing is, its rare to ask for a medium or medium rare meat and get one - much less a medium one with a tasty char grilled crust. But oh boy did these people hit the nail on the head! We had guessed that would be the case by looking around at the other tables, but then, to our surprise, the waiter showed up with the coolest looked carving knife that looked and worked like a huge penknife! He sliced up the meat for us giving each a piece to try and talking us through the differences between taste and texture of each cut.

OK granted, maybe that was a bit too much - a step further would be to be fed - but when one complains about the lack of service in most eateries in Athens, one can't then complain about too much service.

All and all a great experience, and definitely worth the journey there. A bit on the pricey side, but we did order allot of stuff. I think, next time I'm there, it'll be a salad, a steak and chips.

You can read more about the place at on the Athinorama Website

But my day wasn't over yet, because after having a coffee at one of the many cafeterias of Bournazi and observing the local sights and sounds, we decided to return to the centre of Athens for drinks and the promise of an oasis hidden in its heart. Or rather the tail end of Six Dogs (I had to say it), because instead of entering this bar through the front entrance one can choose to takes the stairs that lead down, under and behind it, into an courtyard filled with wooden tables and chairs, a bar, a tent, and even a hammock and swing:

View Larger Map

Couple of cocktails - not half bad either - and we were on our way... All and all a day filled with adventure and discovery... and too think i could have wasted it with aunts and uncles...

Friday, 1 October 2010

The best burger in the city?

So, a few weeks ago I'm supposed to meet up with friends for to grab some food and maybe a few drinks. But, me being me, I made up some excuse and went home to make my own dinner and relax after a hard days work.

No sooner than I had finished dinner I get a phone call from one of them claiming that they had discovered - in no other words - the "Best burger in the city" and that I had missed out. Now normally I wouldn't have given this preposterous statement much weight, had it not come from the other burger lover (the first being myself) of my friends. I had to try this burger for myself.

The very next day I was on my way to try this so called champ. Accompanying me were my friend who made the claim and another (who obviously hadn't had enough the day before).

The source of this burger was a small establishment in the Mets area of Athens called COLIBRI:

View Larger Map

On arriving, one notices the compactness of the place. Jam packed in an area no bigger than my bedroom, full of clutter creating an enticing, warm and friendly atmosphere.

We ordered a burger each, a pizza and a salad to share.

Now, while waiting for the food, my friend came clean: his overblown statement was but to spite me for not coming to the previous days gathering (and it only took one beer for him to come clean). However I was still quietly anticipating being surprised. And surprised I was! Not by the burger, but by the pizza which was thin and crispy and fresh and everything that the PizzaHut generation has destroyed. Not quite your Italian stone baked pizza, but as good as you can hope to get from a conventional oven. As a matter of fact everything was very nice. The burger was - well not that fat juicy medium done American style patty I had hoped for, but was juicy and pleasantly different from other alternatives in the city.

I imagined myself living in an apartment round the area and grabbing dinner from this gem at least a couple of times a month on my way back from College. Alas, I was reminiscing my University experience and remembering the local take-outs I had lived by all those years ago. This is the sort of place this was: a bit further out of the city for me to want to have to go out of my way for, but just the sort of place I'd like to have down the street from home.

So, the best burger in the city? Well, not quite: but with the closure of Hells Kitchen the hunt is on!
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